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A Cisgender White Guys Theory of Gender

Since just about the beginning of time, most societies functioned in one way when it

came to gender; there were only two. A man and a woman are to come together, fall in love and

raise a family as best as they can. The quintessential man is to be the strong and courageous

provider and show no weakness when times get tough while the quintessential woman is

supposed to be the helpless mother who stays home to take care of her children and cooks dinner

for her hardworking man. This thinking is more than outdated and needs to thrown out. It was

only until recently where people are finally being able to feel comfortable enough to come out of

the shadows and express who they truly are. But how much farther does it need to go?

According to Ann-Marie Nobelius of Monash University of Medicine, Nursing and

Health Sciences, gender is defined as the characteristics that a society or culture delineates as

masculine or feminine. This is unlike a persons sex which is defined as the biological

differences; chromosomes, hormonal profiles, internal and external sex organs (Nobelius). So

therefore, while your sex as male or female as you were born is a biological fact, what that sex

means in terms of your gender role as a 'man' or a 'woman' in society can be quite different.

These gender roles have cursed our society for decades and only recently are people beginning

to become who they truly are.

While a persons sex is the biological and assigned at birth their gender is an entirely

different matter. Robin Henry, writer of Rethinking Gender states how many of of us learned

in high school biology that sex chromosomes determine a babys sex, full stop: xx means its a

girl, xy means its a boy. But on occasion xx and xy dont tell the whole story (Henry 51). While

a doctor may be able to find the xx or the xy, that doesnt determine what the baby will be

mentally and emotionally. Assigning these labels early on is unfair to the child as gender is a
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personal matter and is often times unrelated to their sex. An article from National Geographic

talks about a young persons growth in finding their identity. It states how while most declare

themselves as a boy or girl based on what aligns with their biological sex, some find themselves

in a realm that is not so clear-cut.

I saw this tweet and in my opinion it rings very true for many. Before taking this class, I

was never aware nor had I ever seen gender discrimination. I grew up in a family that was

always accepting of anyone and everyone and I had never had issues with anyone of any

different race, ethnicity or gender. Upon leaving this class however I have come to realize that

people of different sexual orientations and women have never truly been equal to men. They

have had to fight for equality and for many

the fight is still going on. While I believe

Victor was talking about women in his tweet,

I believe that it doesnt just apply to men and

women. It applies to people of every gender

and every sexual orientation. Many of us who

are privileged take for granted the simple things in life that we come to believe are inherent in

our everyday lives; bathrooms, pay rates and opportunities.

In the beginning of our class, we watched a series of TEDtalks. One of these talks

spoke of the dangers of a single story. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoke about how it is

dangerous to assume someones identity based on a single story. As she stated, many people

assumed she came from intense poverty, famine and disease simply because she was from

Nigeria. This however was not her story but rather the story that media creates and shows our

society. We assume that since we have seen the story of the impoverished and starving then it
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surely must be the case for everyone living in those nations but in reality, we fail to see the

other stories. Chimamanda spoke of how when she was a child and the single story her mother

had told her about their houseboy who lived in poverty. It was only until they visited his village

when Chimamanda realized that being poor was not his single story. It was not all that there was

to him and his life. She talks about the assumptions people had of her, saying, if I too had not

grown up in Nigeria and if all I knew of Africa were popular images then I too would think it

was a popular place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals and incomprehensible people who

were fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDs, unable to speak for themselves and

waiting to be saved by a kind, white foreigner (Adichie Ted Talk). If we show a person, over

and over in one specific context, then that is what they become in societys view. While

Chimamanda speaks of the dangers of creating a single single story for Africans, this stereotype

can apply to anyone and everyone. Boys, girls, gay, straight, transgender and anyone can be

given a single story based on what society would have them be glossing over who that person

truly is and never giving them a fair chance to show anyone otherwise.

In my life I have faced what I thought at the time were gender crises. In reality these

moments were just me trying to find who I was and it is a perfectly natural part of everyones life

that we all go through. In elementary school I was bullied a lot because I was not masculine.

Society lead the other boys on the playground to believe that boys were supposed to be tough,

strong and courageous and any boy who did not fit this description was to be put down and

bullied for it. I was not the most athletic, the fastest, the smartest or the wittiest. I did not have

girls coming up to me asking to be my boyfriend nor was I confident enough to talk to those girls

that I liked. I was bullied a lot for this to the point where some days I wanted to fake being sick

so that I did not have to go to school and other days I would question myself and try to re
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evaluate myself, second guessing who I was because of what the bullies would say to me. The

first time I heard Macklemores song Same Love, the opening verses actually speaks a lot of truth

in my opinion on matters that are often overlooked ;

When I was in the 3rd grade I thought that I was gay 'cause I could draw,
My uncle was and I kept my room straight
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face, she's like,
"Ben you've loved girls since before pre-K"
Trippin', yeah, I guess she had a point, didn't she?
A bunch of stereotypes all in my head

American society holds men to a high standard. Our class analyzed gender stereotypes

and found that men are supposed to be strong, brave and courageous. They are expected to be

independent and show no emotion while being selfless and protective of women and those they

care for. While these standards are great they are not reality and men should not be held to this

standard. Macklemores song spoke to me because it talks about a boy being put down by society

because he could do things that a girl could do. All these stereotypes lead him to believe that

because he could do feminine things that he must be gay, right? Wrong. Just because a guy is

not athletic, super strong and smooth talking that should not mean that society can lead him to

believe he was gay. While this specific story is fictional, her fears were all too real. Through

elementary school and middle school I believed I was supposed to be that strong, independent

man who could play sports and defend my familys honor and when I did not meet these sudden

expectations I felt like I was inadequate and a failure as a man and even that I was feminine.

While the big media shows success stories of people being able to come out and everyone

loves them and supports them, this is not always the case. In fact, all too often people are left

behind, disowned and forgotten when they come out to the people they love. For example, in the

popular television show 13 Reasons Why a character Courtney is a closeted lesbian. Courtney
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risks her friendships and another persons reputation to hide the fact that she is gay because she

was raised by two gay dads. She doesnt want people to know who she truly is because she is

afraid that everyone will only think she is the gay girl who was raised by other gay people. She

didnt want to ruin her fathers reputations or her own on the thought that her school and society

would think negatively of her.

For me, it was not until the second half of high school that I realized I could be who I

wanted without needing to worry about what others would say and I could be who I wanted to

be. I realized I could be who I wanted and that the rest would come with it as time went on. I

dressed how I wanted rather than what the social norms were. I listened to the music that I

wanted rather than letting people pressure me into listening to what was either popular or

considered manly such as hard rock and twenty-first century rap music. Instead it was a song by

a rock band from a small town in Texas that hardly anyone knows about. The band is called Blue

October and their music has saved me on multiple occasions. Their song Fear however made me

realize I needed to be who I wanted to be and I needed to stop worrying about what other people

thought.

Fear in itself
Will reel you in and spit you out
Over and over again
Believe in yourself
And you will walk
Fear in itself
Will use you up and break you down
like you were never enough
I used to fall, now I get back up.

Up until my sophomore year in high school I did whatever it took to fit in. I allowed

people to bully me, letting their words sink in my mind, thinking it would be motivation to better

myself. I lost a lot of friends in that time, personal relationships and people who promised me
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forever. Their promises were empty but since I was a man I was expected to bottle it up. No

one ever asked me if I was ok. No one ever wanted to know what was going on in my mind.

Once this song came out and I heard it for the first time it was as if a massive weight had been

lifted off of my shoulders. Suddenly this man with a full beard and tattoos whom I had turned to

for years was telling me it was okay to feel pain. It was okay to hurt but it was okay to be who I

was and move on. I could be who I wanted to and get through the pain I felt the way I wanted

rather than the way everyone expected me to, by

pushing it back with extra sets at the gym and

nothing more.

A major reason I turned to this band was

because of the lead singer. His name is Justin

Furstenfeld and his voice is unlike any other.

Rather than singing about drinking in clubs,

accumulating massive amounts of illegitimate

money and having sex with strippers who beg to be around him which was the typical

masculine subject of todays music, Justin sings about his true feelings. He puts his emotions

into his music and doesnt care who hears it. Justin does not follow how society views what men

in his line of work should be singing about. In his career he has opened up about his thoughts of

suicide, the times he was lied to and cheated on, his drug and alcohol addictions, his lowest

points and his recovery. Society would have a normal person believe that he is weak. People

judged him, saying he was weak minded and not a proper man. I think that those expectations

are absurd. It took courage to speak about how he felt and still feels rather than follow what was

mainstream and normal. It was brave of him to speak out and what he was going through because
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there were many other men just like him including me who felt as if we had no voice and could

not speak up for how we actually felt.

In reality, im not sure that our society will ever see a day where people of all different

walks of life, all different cultures and ethnicities, and all different sexual orientations are truly

equal. The stereotypes that follow boys and girls are deeply rooted within our society and will

take time to overcome. However, until that day comes, people will continue to fight and speak

up. The strength and determination of those who fight for equality is uncomparable and will

never end. I do believe that someday we will see a world where boys and girls are not judged or

required to play with toys that are designed for the other gender, i do believe that someday

there will be total equality in the workplace for everyone and I do believe that someday there

will be such a thing as gender equality.


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Works Cited

A.K., Victor (@Woulk3r). I honestly had no knowledge of my privilege a few years ago. No
Idea there was a need for gender equality. But everyday we learn. 16 May 2017. 6:41
AM. Tweet.

"Courtney Crimson." 13 Reasons Why Wiki. Wikia, n.d. Web. 15 May 2017.

Donahue, Brendan. Blue October Killswitch Engage Rock Festivals July 2015. Brendan
Donahue Photography. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2017

Haggerty, Benjamin H. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis Ft. Mary Lambert Same Love.
AZlyrics. MusixMatch, 5 Nov. 2012. Web. 12 May 2017.

The Danger of a Single Story. By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Perf. Chimamanda Ngozi
Adichie. TEDtalk World. TED Conferences, July 2009. Web. 12 May 2017

Webmed. What is the Difference between Sex and Gender? Monash University. Monash
University CRICOS, 4 June 2010. Web. 15 May 2017.